A Molokaʻi man pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in connection with a case involving an assault of a flight attendant on a flight from Honolulu to Hilo last year.
According to a news release from the District of Hawaiʻi of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 33-year-old Steven Sloan of Molokaʻi pleaded guilty to interfering with flight crew members and assaulting a flight attendant. His sentencing is scheduled for for Aug. 4.
“Crimes committed on an aircraft while in flight can imperil the safety of all those on board,” said Clare Connors, U.S. attorney for the Hawaiʻi district, in the news release. “This prosecution demonstrates the potential federal criminal consequences of assaulting a flight crew member.”
The news release said that according to court documents and information presented in court, at about 7:30 a.m. Sept. 23, 2021, Hawaiian Airlines Flight 152 was in the air from Honolulu to Hilo when the flight attendant victim of the assault moved from the front of the aircraft and proceeded toward the rear, collecting trash. When he approached Row 6, he collected trash from the left side of the aisle and when he turned his attention to the right side, Sloan punched the victim in the chest with a closed fist.
The victim saw that Sloan was upset or agitated and attempted to cover his body and create space from Sloan. Sloan then struck the victim on the back left side of head. Fearing for his safety, the safety of the other two flight attendants as well as the other passengers, particularly the woman seated next to Sloan, the victim advised the other flight attendants to abandon their normal duties and monitor the doors of the aircraft in the event Sloan went for the doors. The captain was advised and returned the plane to Honolulu.
“The FBI takes these types of crimes seriously,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill in the news release. “The flight crew has a right to feel safe aboard an aircraft while also performing their duties. We encourage everyone to be aware of their surroundings on board an airplane and understand that the FBI will investigate these crimes to the fullest extent of the law.”
Sloan faces maximum penalties of 20 years in prison for the charge of interference with flight crew members and attendants, a fine of $250,000 and supervised release for three years. The maximum penalties for the assault charge are one year imprisonment, a fine of $100,000 and supervised release for one year.
The case was investigated by the FBI and state Department of Public Safety Sheriff Division and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Darren W.K. Ching.